The first 3 years of Casey's life were uneventful in terms of her health. She developed her first fever the day after her 3rd birthday and broke after 4 days. Casey's doctor told her parents not to worry, it was just a bug, but if she develops a fever that lasts that long again to come back in.
3 weeks later while on vacation Casey's temperature spiked and would not break. So, on day 4 the family vacation was cut short so she could go to the doctor. At the walk-in clinic they were instructed to immediately take Casey to the hospital. When they got to RUH Casey's bloodwork showed that she was in an incredibly vulnerable state, she was admitted immediately with pancytopenia - a condition in which a person had too few red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets - and a lung infection.
It took 2 more days, 4 blood transfusions, IV fluids, and antibiotics for Casey's fever to break. During that time her parents heard the words "Your child may have cancer" for the first time.
However, Casey's marrow biopsy showed fibrosis (extremely rare in children) but no signs of leukemic cells, and after a week in hospital she surprised everyone by starting to get better. Her body started producing red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells on its own. Casey was discharged with the hope that it all was a fluke, a virus, but not cancer. Unfortunately in the months that followed it became clear that something was still wrong, Casey was had recurring ear infections, was low energy, and just wasn't the same little girl she was before her 3rd birthday on July 30, 2015.
On November 14, 2018 Casey was diagnosed with B Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, she also had leukemic blasts in her marrow and cerebrospinal fluid. The treatment for Casey's disease is the same as the more commonly known Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
It is long and harsh, Casey's treatment lasted from November 2018 until February 2021. During that time she experienced many side effects: Common ones like nausea, pain, fatigue, neuropathy, mood swings, and hair loss. Unfortunately every body is unique and Casey also experienced side effects that are less well known, including overnight hypoglycemia (blood sugar dropping dangerously low) and strange neurological symptoms that affected her speech, balance, mood, and motor skills.
Casey is now in remission and enjoying life off treatment but because she is a childhood cancer survivor she will be monitored for the rest of her life. Monitored not only for a recurrence but for the potential damage that the treatment she has endured may have caused.
Throughout all of this Casey always had her little brother, Max, by her side, and their relationship is truly magical. Because Casey and her family live and were able to access all of Casey's treatment in Saskatoon, they were fortunate not to need the many supports available to the families of sick children in Saskatoon (like Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada).
However, this whole experience would have been so much harder without the support of the pediatric cancer community in Saskatchewan. It is an incredible network of families who are walking , or have walked, the same path - check out Small But Mighty SK. And of course it all would have been harder without the love and support of family and friends. Lots of families fight cancer, but Casey and her family never felt they were fighting alone.